Olympic Star Alyson Felix Speaks at USC Commencement

When Allyson Felix, a Trojan alumna, renowned athlete, activist and top sports speaker, delivered the keynote address at USC's 139th commencement ceremony, it took on a victorious spirit.

“Allyson has already inspired the world as a runner and used her platform to push for women’s health and women’s rights,” said USC’s President Carol L. Folt. “Her spirit and her message will inspire our students as they set out to make their mark on the world.”

During the May 13 ceremony, almost 15,000 degrees were awarded. A crowd of up to 60,000 people was in attendance, with millions more watching online. At the commencement ceremony, Felix was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Felix was raised as a Trojan fan, describing herself as,

"a Los Angeles girl through and through." 

Felix began her professional career in 2003, the same year she began her studies at USC. She rose to fame as an international track star after winning her first Olympic medal–a silver in the 200-meter sprint— as a sophomore in Athens in 2004. In 2008, she earned her first Olympic gold in Beijing, shortly after graduating from the USC Rossier School of Education with a bachelor's degree. 

Felix won three gold medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games and two more at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. She competed in her final race as an Olympic athlete at the Tokyo Games last year, at the age of 35. With her wins, Felix now has 11 Olympic medals – seven gold, three silver, and one bronze.

Following her Olympic medal haul, Felix became a top sports speaker.

Her 11th Olympic medal came after taking on one of the most difficult and gratifying experiences of her life – becoming a mother. Felix was well aware that starting a family might jeopardize her career, so she pushed for contractual protections during and after pregnancy. Her example inspired other Olympians to follow suit. Following that, plenty of prominent brands announced new policies and protections. Felix then went on to become the first athlete to be sponsored by Athleta, a women’s athletic wear business.

After her daughter, Camryn, was born in 2018, Felix was candid about a difficult pregnancy and birth. Camryn is “by far my greatest accomplishment,” said Felix. Felix also testified before the House Committee on Ways and Means, motivated by her life-threatening experience. She spoke about the Black maternal mortality crisis in the U.S.

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Watch The Entire Commencement Speech From Allyson Felix: